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Duke's 3-0 victory leaves Cavs blue

In a pivotal ACC matchup, the No. 20 Virginia men's soccer squad suffered a painful 3-0 defeat at No. 2 Duke yesterday.

"We didn't play our best," third-year Cavalier midfielder Ryan Trout said. "We had some great chances but couldn't finish."

Although the Blue Devils (9-0-3, 3-0-1 ACC) dominated the game early, it was the Cavs (8-6-1, 1-4-1) who had the first major scoring opportunity of the game. Fourth-year midfielder Drew O'Donnell blasted a shot wide right on Duke goalkeeper Jeff Haywood midway through the first half.

Nevertheless, Virginia's defense continued to battle against a vicious Duke offense, led by All-American candidate Ali Curtis. The Cavs successfully kept the Blue Devils scoreless until the 14:25 mark in the first half when Robert Antoniou headed a throw-in past Virginia keeper Kyle Singer to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.

The Cavaliers' problem of defending restarts has plagued Virginia all year long and was ultimately the cause of downfall in Durham.

"We keep having problems with letting in restarts," Cav defender Marshall Leonard said. "I don't know what the problem is, I guess it's just a lack of determination to get the ball out."

With the halftime horn less than ten minutes away, the Cavs dug themselves into an even deeper hole when Curtis sent a rocket into the Virginia net to give Duke a 2-0 halftime lead.

"There was no question that was a great shot," Leonard said.

But the Cavs, unwilling to leave Durham without a fight, mounted a strong attack at the beginning of the final half, including a dynamic breakaway by forward Ryan Gibbs.

"Before I could really get a good shot, the Duke defender closed me off," Gibbs said. "I passed the ball over to Sheldon [Barnes] but he didn't get a real good angle."

Fellow attacker Barnes wasn't able to finish and Virginia missed the chance to get on the scoreboard.

"It's frustrating, because we're just not finishing," Trout said.

Duke's Peter Gail put the game out of reach for Virginia when he popped a crossing shot off of a free kick past Singer to bring the game to its final score. Once again, the Cavaliers were unable to successfully defend against an opponent's restart.

"People can point to the lack of scoring, but I think a major problem is the lack of defense in many cases," Leonard said. "Some of the goals shouldn't have been goals, it seems like we can't get the ball out of our zone on defense but the other team does."

Though the regular season is quickly coming to its finale, the Cavs remain cautiously optimistic of the future.

"We are definitely good enough to beat Duke," Trout said. "When we play our best, we can beat anyone, now we just need to go out and play our best."


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